Can you be a motorsports fan while also advocating for multi-modal commuting? Can you believe in carbon awareness while also appreciating a suburban lifestyle? Are these types of behaviors contradictory? I don’t believe that they are at all. In fact, just like most aspects of life in America today, I believe that the general absence of a moderate viewpoint greatly polarizes the majority of those involved.
When you are cooking, you wouldn’t use a meat cleaver to slice a tomato. You also wouldn’t use a 10 pound sledgehammer in order to hang a picture on the wall. It’s all about using the right tool for the job. In my commute, I have a “first and last mile” issue. This is where the express bus is a very convenient option for the majority of the trip. However, there is a 1-2 mile gap from my home to the bus departure, as well as from the bus arrival point to my work.
I could use a car for this gap, contributing exhaust to the already polluted Phoenix air and incurring a substantial amount of wear and tear to my beloved Mazda. After all, it’s just a mile or two, right? Wrong. There’s much better options. After some research, as well as a bit of policy reminders to Valley Metro, I purchased a Fuji Origami folding bike. It’s no Brompton, but it’s also a quarter of the price. It looks a bit funny and it’s nowhere near as much fun to ride as my Roubaix, but it is an excellent way to bridge the gap.
Rather than emitting exhaust fumes and destroying my car’s paint through hours in the Arizona sun at the park-and-ride, my low maintenance Origami goes on the bus with me. Once I disembark from the bus, I ride for another 2 miles and then park the bike under my desk. Cost of fuel? $0. Dents in the car from a parking lot? 0. Calories burned? About 150-180. It’s a bit brutal on our days of 115 degrees, but it’s not like my car interior would cool down in a 2 mile trip anyways, so no point in complaining there.
Does this mean that I am going to denounce the car and go to a car-free lifestyle? No. It’s simply not feasible. This is because I do have regular trips to locations which are not even remotely close to mass transit. My car is also paid off, very reliable, and, honestly, fun to drive. I considered an electric car. However, my 35 year old home would require a new electrical panel and the actual environmental cost of a lithium ion battery likely far outweigh usage of a 40 mpg Skyactiv that now only moves about 4000-5000 miles per year for those trips beyond mass transit.